Is there nutritional value in the outer layers of fruits & vegetables? You bet.
Peels are often discarded due to preference or in an attempt to reduce exposure to pesticides. However, removing the peels can often leave out one of the most nutrient-rich parts of the plant — peels are packed with beneficial nutrients. The amounts of nutrients they contain vary based on the type of fruit or vegetable. However, many non-peeled produce contains higher amounts of vitamins, minerals and other beneficial plant compounds, compared to its peeled counterparts. And of course, there's the higher content of fiber often found in the peel.
Vegetable peels or skins are particularly good sources of fiber, which can help prevent constipation, as well as helping with hunger and potentially allowing you to feel fuller for longer. While the exact amount of fiber varies, fresh fruits and vegetables may contain up to 33% more fiber before the outer layers are removed.
Some peels, notably apple, are rich in pectin, a soluble fiber that helps lower blood cholesterol and control blood sugar. In fact, a raw 🍎with skin contains up to 332% more vitamin K, 142% more vitamin A, 115% more vitamin C, 20% more calcium and up to 19% more potassium than a peeled apple.
Additional fruits and veggies to consider leaving on the peel: 🍓, 🍐, peas, plums, 🍄, kiwi, eggplant, cucumber, 🥕, and 🍒. I've been leaving on peels lately, mostly for roasted veggies, that I normally would have peeled. These include potatoes, radishes, and carrots.
Of course, there are some fruit or vegetable peels that may be hard to consume or simply inedible. Those include: 🥑, 🍊, 🍋, 🍌, lychee, 🍍, papaya, 🧄, 🍉, and 🧅.
Although we can't really consume the peels mentioned above, some are still valuable — in particular citrus peels. They can still be incorporated in a
variety of ways:
✔︎ Zest the peels into entrees, sauces, or vinaigrettes for flavor and additional nutrients
✔︎ Dry and save for tea
✔︎ Cut chunks of peels and use in dishes for braising
Before eating any fruits and veggies, I wash them with plain water. It will remove nearly all dirt, as well as bacteria and some pesticide residues, if any, on the surface. Scrub firmer produce like potatoes with a vegetable brush.
Here are a few recipes to check out that use citrus zest: Tomato Feta Salad Lime & Mint